Show Notes

In this special podcast episode, we interview the courageous authors of “American Cartel-Inside the Battle to Bring Down the Opioid Industry” - Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz.  

Scott and Sari give us behind the scenes and documented detail about their definitive investigation and exposé of how some of the nation's largest corporations created and fueled the opioid crisis. Their book is an indictment of the astonishing corporate greed and government complicity of lobbyists and lawyers and politicians - with names that may surprise you.

There are numerous intriguing stories in this podcast, drawn from the book, and one that demonstrated the disdain of those addicted to opioids was when Scott described on the podcast how employees of drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. authored an email making fun of addicts by drawing from the theme song for the “Beverly Hillbillies.” This parody describes how “pillbillies” drove south to obtain drugs at Florida pill mills. “Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed / A poor mountaineer, barely kept his habit fed,” the song begins, chronicling how Jed goes to Florida, which is described as having a “lax attitude” about pills, or “Hillbilly Heroin."

Riveting reviews of the book include Beth Macy, author of "Dopesick" who describes American Cartel: "AMERICAN CARTEL is a riveting, page-turner that illuminates how the revolving door of former government employees enabled the industry they once regulated to thwart courageous efforts to reign in the opioid epidemic. Shady politicians, conspiring lobbyists, larger-than-life attorneys, and shocking stats - this book unveils exactly how and why the epidemic came to be—and who is responsible."

About the Authors: 

Scott Higham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The Washington Post. He served as a lead reporter on the Post’s “The Opioid Files” series, which was a Pulitzer Finalist for Public Service. His investigation into the opioid industry with 60 Minutes received the Peabody Award, an Emmy, and the duPont-Columbia and Edward R. Murrow awards. Higham is the co-author of Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery.

Sari Horwitz is a four-time Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter who has been at The Washington Post for four decades, where she has covered the Justice Department and criminal justice issues. She was a lead reporter on the Post’s “The Opioid Files” series, which was a Pulitzer Finalist for Public Service in 2020. Horwitz has authored or co-authored three books: Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery, Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation and Justice in Indian Country.

The book is available at Amazon.

Here is the link to the adaptation that you can access at the Post for free.